Forward Together – CANZ Conference 2015

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16th to 17th October saw an excellent cross-section of CANZ members getting together at Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Auckland for our 2015 conference.

The conference covered a wide range of topics with speakers from inside and outside our industry. Prof. Simon Bickerton, from the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials at the University of Auckland started Friday off, describing his experiences working at BMW on mass production of advanced composites for the automotive sector. BMW’s developments around automation are likely to impact throughout the composites industry – a key question for us is how best to make use of these in the NZ context.

Tony Stanton from Gurit then gave an interesting talk on the lifecycle benefits of composites. Tony used a case study for the design of a commercial ferry to compare what different material choices really cost – while up-front costs may seem higher for composites, once you consider the benefits of lower maintenance and reduced fuel consumption composites can offer very significant lifecycle cost and environmental benefits.

Alongside the conference and well integrated into the morning teas and lunch we had trade displays from NZ Fibreglass, Olympus, P J Hobbs and Element Raw Materials, with a wide range of really interesting new equipment and materials.

Christina Leung from NZEIR gave an insight into what is going on with the NZ and world economies. Things look generally positive, but there are questions about the true state of the Chinese economy, and local effects of immigration, reduced income for the dairy industry and high housing costs.

James Carnie from Clendons discussed the important issue of tendering and protecting IP. As with most legal topics, the devil really is in the detail and it pays to get good advice to ensure that your IP is protected when you submit tenders and that contracts work in the best interests of your business. James also discussed the importance of chasing up debtors, and had good advice as to how to do this effectively.

Fostering industry collaboration was the focus of Kirsten Edgar from Callaghan Innovation. Kirsten discussed the benefits of collaboration and how to address common problems, and also project funding available from Callaghan for collaborative projects.

We were very pleased to have John Gardiner speaking who is in charge of “Determinations and Assurance” at MBIE. John gave a very useful overview of the status of the NZ building code and how it relates to composites, and also discussed how companies can best demonstrate that their products meet code requirements. It was reassuring to hear that MBIE recognises that the current system is not perfect, and are responsive to industry input as to how it can be improved. We look forward as an association to work more closely with John in the future.

Next up was the burning issue of fire….. We had a good panel discussion with speakers covering science aspects, testing methods, and company experience in qualifying new material systems. This is a topic that is increasingly important, and where we can learn from each other.

Finishing of the day were two very interesting application talks – Jamie Timms, from Rocket Lab gave a fascinating overview of the technology needed to escape from the earth, including their fully composites airframe and their innovative rocket engine with many 3D printed parts. A highlight was getting up close with an actual engine, a beautiful example of engineering.

Roger Twinane then gave an interesting overview of the proposed Skypath walkway/cycleway for the Auckland harbour bridge. This is an exciting application of composites to an iconic structure, and it was great to hear about the design and development process.

Saturday morning started with more talks at Waipuna, with an update on HASNO and Workspace developments, then an overview from Mike Birdsall on new developments with our NZ Marine and Composites ITO, which continues to perform very well. Mike also discussed the opportunity to engage with the World Skills competition. Richard Nowak from Olympus then gave an excellent overview of the state of the art for non-destructive inspection of composites, before the AGM.

Saturday afternoon was spent at CACM’s Newmarket campus, with demos from NZ Fibreglass, Olympus and CACM, followed by drinks and an excellent dinner back at the Waipuna Hotel.

Our next conference is expected to be in Wellington in October 2016. More details will be available closer to the time.